Museum exhibition

Peter Friedl: Out of the Shadows

Witte de With Center, Rotterdam, Netherlands
7 November 2004 - 9 January 2005

Out of the Shadows is the result of an aesthetic research by Peter Friedl focussing on the political and socio-historical situation in Cyprus. Out of the shadows is part of the visual art program Who if not we?? of Thinking Forward, the cultural program for the Dutch presidency of the European Union in 2004.

Out of the Shadows

The EU border has run through Cyprus for half a year now. What was a cease-fire line monitored by UN peace-keeping troops’a negative fairy-tale scenario that could not be changed’has mutated to the EU border after the more prosperous South entered unilaterally into the European Union. And what is commonly referred to as the “Cyprus Problem” the founding and destruction of the first undivided republic (1960 - 1974) and the ethnically defined, de-facto division of the Mediterranean island, which is positioned ambiguously between three continents, into a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot part has thereby experienced a further development. The ‘State of Exception’ (Giorgio Agamben), which has today reached its greatest global distribution and normal status as a side-effect and remnant of modernity, also determines Cyprus’ inner borders and socio-historical identity. It defines the forms of rule and reaction. As a dramatic model with pictorial qualities, it presents itself for the aesthetic investigation of conflicts that would otherwise remain at the margins of narratives or somewhere in between, and become buried in the media's speechlessness.

Out of the Shadows is based on the idea that the exhibition is the media. ‘Cyprus’ is a projection screen an object of desire for all types of geopolitical interests in the course of a mutating history equipped with all ingredients necessary for an epic tale (anti-colonial struggle, civil war, partition, modernization, and offshore business).

The exhibition material comes in part from public workshops held in Rotterdam. Various authors have been invited to write short, informative contributions based on a fragmentary list of themes, such as would be necessary for a hitherto non-existent dictionary of the history of Cyprus’which would thus be a critical history. The perished world of the Greek and Turkish shadow theater is the arena for dualistic obsessions. The slide series Playgrounds (Cyprus) documents; from below; the state of affairs after decades of social amnesia.

Otto Preminger’s Hollywood saga Exodus, a belated film on the founding of a state (Israel), was produced at the same time as Cyprus gained independence. The story begins in the British colony of Cyprus shortly after World War II and recalls the illegal Jewish immigrants to Palestine interned in detention camps located there. In Pier Paolo Pasolini’s short film 'Che cosa sono le nuvole' (1967), the Cypriot story of Othello is radically and melancholically rescued from the oblivion of bourgeois tragedy. After a revolutionary dismantling of the intrigue, it is tossed onto the garbage heap as perfectly happy trash.

The topography of division and displacement delivers the open structure for an exhibition project about the construction of history and concepts based on the example of Cyprus.

Peter Friedl

Who if not we?? episode 4: Out of the Shadows, a series of projects on (ex)changing Europe.

Out of the shadows is part of the visual art program Who if not we?? of Thinking Forward, the cultural program for the Dutch presidency of the European Union in 2004. Thinking Forward consists of a variety of activities in the Netherlands and in the ten new member states of the EU.

Thinking Forward is an initiative of the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science and is commissioned by the Fund for Amateur Art and Performing Arts and the Mondriaan Foundation.

Who if not we?? consists of seven exhibitions and a number of additional projects throughout Europe. The main motivation of this program is to discuss how art can participate in current social and political change.

For more information please visit Witte de With Center.

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